The Ekiti State Government has clarified the alleged sacking of Orin-Ekiti community in Ido-Osi Local Government by suspected Fulani herdsmen, saying the report was far from reality.
The Commissioner for Information, Muyiwa Olumilua, told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview on Thursday that the community has more security than any other part of Ekiti State.
Residents of the community had embarked on a protest on Wednesday to draw attention to its plight at the hands of the herdsmen, whom they claimed had taken over their farm settlements and destroyed their crops worth N50million.
The protesters, comprising old and young men and women, said the farmlands destroyed belonged to 70 farmers.
They alleged that one Emmanuel Ilori had been killed by suspected herders while the Benue farmers in the town had been chased away.
The Onikare of Orin Ekiti, Bamidele Fasuyi, while speaking with journalists on the matter on Wednesday, had alleged that the herders had occupied and destroyed crops planted on the abandoned 2500 acres of land at Orin farm settlement.
“What they wanted is to invade our land and chase us away. They even killed one of our able bodied men this year,” the monarch had complained.
“They are imposing some curfew in this town, because our youths can’t go to farm freely and government has not been doing something. Several hectares of land had been destroyed. They used to operate at night with AK 47 rifle.
“Over 70 farmers were affected from our records. Crops worth 50 million have been ravaged . They ate up their products like Cocoayam, yam, cassava and others and made them to incur debts.
“We appeal to government to use the 2500 acres of land for farming. The state and federal government as well as private bodies should come to our aid.”
A youth leader, Omotoso Kayode, alleged that the suspected herders had hoisted a flag at the farm settlement, where they warned the farmers to keep off or face death.
“They wrote ‘keep off’ with a picture of a cattle rearer on the flag. This is a serious threat. The police, NSCDC and soldiers removed the flag last year, but they had hoisted another one,” said Mr Kayode.
“We used to do night guard to ward off attack, because the police had found it difficult to arrest them. Our graduates who have no jobs were going into farming, but they are suffering losses because of destruction by cows.
“They must vacate the place. Governor Kayode Fayemi must relocate them. From our findings, they used to enter into this place from neighbouring towns like Isan, Ayede, and Ido and we are suspecting conspiracy .There may be famine in the land with the way things are going.
“We are not compromising our stand on this relocation. Chief Obafemi Awolowo-led government in the old Western region acquired the land in 1958 for arable farming and not for ranching.”
A group known as Save the Nation Movement (STNM) in a statement on Thursday, accused Mr Fayemi of keeping quiet over the attacks because of his alleged vice presidential ambition in 2023.
In a statement issued in Abuja by its National Secretary, Stevens Chilaka, the STNM said Governor Fayemi was only living up to his pre-election agreement of ceding land in Ekiti State to herdsmen so as to remain “a good and willing boy” to the “presidency cabal” towards the 2023 presidential election.
“Today, Fayemi’s silence on the take-over of lands in Orin-Ekiti by Fulani herdsmen and other atrocities being committed by them across the State has lend credence to claim by the PDP,” the group said.
The group recalled that in February this year, the people of Ayegbaju Ekiti in Oye Local Government Area of Ekiti State had to stage a violent protest over alleged killing of a farmer, Elijah Ogor, by suspected herdsmen.
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Mr Ogor, who was in his 30s, hailed from Benue but was residing in Ekiti, where he was engaged in farming.
The group also recalled that in April this year, suspected herders killed two persons and injured three others while many were sent packing from their residences in
Iyemero-Ekiti, Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State.
“In June this year suspected herdsmen machete a hunter, Emmanuel
Ilori, to death in Orin Ekiti. He was killed at midnight while hunting
games. The tragedy happened barely 24 hours after a lady was murdered
in Ise Ekiti,” said the group.
“Adeniyi Ajayi, who was in the bush when Ilori was killed had explained
that they met the herdsmen numbering about 30 in an abandoned piggery
in the town and when they attempted to inquire what they were doing in
the farm, the herdsmen opened fire on them and that resulted in the
death of Mr Ilori.
“In all these, Governor Fayemi has done nothing, ostensibly because he
does not want to offend the powers that be so as not to jeopardise his
ambition to either be President or Vice Presidential candidate of the
All Progressives Congress, APC, in 2023.”
However, the Ekiti State Government said the allege invasion was a hoax and a thorough investigation had revealed that neither was the community sacked by herdsmen nor was a flag hoisted as a sign of conquest of the area,
Mr Olumilua said there had been an effective security patrol in the area since the last incident, adding that there was no reason for any alarm as raised by the community on Wednesday.
On the allegation by STNM, Mr Olumlua said the group was only trying to malign the governor using a faceless group.
He said the group is a group of people whose credibility could not be determined, as they no one had heard about them until now.
“Orin is even better protected than Ado Ekiti as it is,” he said. “At a point in time, as you are aware, there were some incidences, where one hunter got killed, ever since that time, the governor gave strict instructions that a Joint Patrol Team must patrol that area, especially towns that share borders with neighbouring states.”
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He said the task force has the police, soldiers, NSCDC and some local vigilante groups as members, noting that the area was under patrol and intense scrutiny all the time, in terms of the happenings there.
“Now what happened is still a mystery to us. The youths of the town, the elders of the community, they have the Special Adviser to the governor on Security’s number on speed dial, so if anything goes wrong, he should be called,” said Mr Olumilua.
“Assuming they wanted to ignore him, they could have called the local police, the DPO and the DSS office in Orin. They didn’t do that. The Commissioner of Police was there they could have called, they didn’t call him. They just called the press, went to the road and carried placards.
“If you are afraid of being attacked, the first persons you should call should be the police, so why didn’t they call the police:?
“Members of the security team went to Orin first thing this morning, they went to the allegedly annexed part of the town which is deep into the bush, now what they are calling a flag was a red rag that was hanging off the branch of one shrub and now they said they wrote keep, but I didn’t see anything like that. It was not a flag, it was a rag.
“If somebody is going to annex your territory, it would be a proper flag with an insignia, there was nothing like that there. As of now, the rag was removed from the bush and that is that.
“What of the telltale signs that animals had invaded the place is their droppings. It is either going to be fresh or dried. Dried means that they’ve been there and they have left. Flesh means they are still within the vicinity. There was neither there.
“All these things point to the fact that there was something amiss. Their reasons for doing that, well, we can’t decipher for now. It is coming at this time when everyone wants to enjoy the Christmas season.
“What we can assure every Ekiti citizen at this time is there is no security threat. The state is safe and we don’t have any threat of that nature.”